Man charged with starting meth-related fire near Metro-East daycare, school


by staff

Posted on January 24, 2013 at 11:57 AM

Updated Thursday, Jan 24 at 11:15 PM

SOUTH ROXANA, Ill. (KMOV) – A South Roxana man faces multiple charges after he allegedly started a fire while making meth earlier this month, causing the evacuation of a nearby in-home daycare.

Thomas Westbrook, 33, was charged Wednesday with aggravated participation in methamphetamine manufacturing and unlawful participation in methamphetamine manufacturing.

According to police, the fire happened on Jan. 2 in a detached garage behind a home in the 1300 block of Gonterman St.

Police said because of the intensity of the fire and smoke, 10 kids and two adults evacuated a house about 20 feet away that doubled as an in-home day care.

Authorities said they were also concerned about a nearby playground for South Roxana Elementary School. There was also a nearby village park and playground, as well as the Bethel Free Will Baptist Church.

Police said the charges were elevated because the house sits within approximately 300 feet of the church.

Westbrook initially was taken into custody on unrelated warrants, but later was released on bond. He was arrested on an additional methamphetamine-related incident eight days after the fire.

After his arrest, Westbrook told police that the explosion happened after a meth ingredient was knocked off a table and ignited by a cigarette.

On Jan. 11, Westbrook was charged after he was allegedly caught with meth manufacturing materials the day before. According to court documents, Westbrook had lithium batteries, airline tubing and drain cleaner and Coleman fuel, all items used to make meth.

He also was charged with stealing gloves from the Collinsville Walmart.

Westbrook’s bail was set at $250,000 in the South Roxana case and $80,000 in the Collinsville case.

He remains at the Madison County Jail in Edwardsville.